California Implements Landmark Farm Animal Welfare Laws in 2015
Strong Veterinary Support Helped Pass Prop 2

HSVMA staff join Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, in celebrating the implementation of California's Proposition 2 in Sacramento on January 9.  HSVMA

The celebration continued the following day at the San Francisco SPCA with HSVMA-RAVS veterinarian, Dr. Paul Breckenridge, and SFSPCA Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett.  HSVMA

California veterinarians appeared in television commercials like this one to voice support for Proposition 2.

January 14, 2015
by Barbara Hodges, DVM, MBA – HSVMA Veterinary Advisor

HSVMA joins animal welfare advocates throughout California and nationwide in celebrating implementation of California’s Proposition 2, the nation’s most comprehensive farm animal protection law. The measure, which took effect on January 1, requires that egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and calves raised for veal have enough room to stand up, turn around and fully extend their wings or limbs. Prop 2 was passed in 2008 by an overwhelming 64% of California voters, including strong support from California’s veterinary community. There was a six-year phase-in period, which ended December 31.

Another state law (AB 1437, passed in 2010), also commencing in 2015, requires that all whole eggs sold in California be produced under conditions that conform to the new animal care standards established by Proposition 2. All eggs sold in California must now be produced by hens able to stand up, fully extend their limbs, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of their enclosure, thus essentially requiring cage-free conditions for the birds.

Veterinary support for Prop 2 was led by HSVMA along with more than 700 individual veterinarians, 90 veterinary hospitals and 150 veterinary medical students throughout California who endorsed the measure. In addition, the California Veterinary Medical Association publicly endorsed Prop 2 with the CVMA Board of Governors recognizing that it was clearly aligned with their organization’s Eight Principles of Animal Care and Use. Professional leadership support was voiced at local levels as well, with the San Diego County and Marin County VMAs adding their endorsements.

Many compassionate veterinary professionals throughout California, including several HSVMA members, committed time, energy and resources to help pass Proposition 2. Efforts ranged from gathering signatures to get the measure on the ballot, to garnering endorsements from colleagues and making presentations at VMA meetings.

Some veterinarians were even more public in their activism, writing letters to the editor, submitting opinion pieces to media outlets, meeting with editorial boards, attending press conferences and appearing in television spots to help spread the word that the profession supported Prop 2 (view one of these commercials at right).

The public looks to the veterinary profession for leadership on animal welfare issues. In the case of Proposition 2, the California veterinary community clearly demonstrated this leadership by endorsing an unprecedented animal welfare reform that will benefit millions of farm animals. The impact of these reforms has already reverberated in California and nationally--elevating awareness about the plight of animals raised for food, and ushering in greater consumer demand for cage-free products and a new era of higher-welfare animal agriculture across the country. HSVMA looks forward to working with the veterinary profession on other similar landmark animal welfare reforms.